Monday, September 22, 2008

People UNLIKE You - Relational Wisdom

Is it not true that one of the natural social realities of our lives is that we tend to surround ourselves with people who look like us, talk like us, and agree with us? We long to be liked, appreciated, revered, and understood – and finding someone who agrees with us is often the path we choose to find fulfillment in these areas.

Though this may feel good, I have found that this is not the most helpful way to grow. Abraham Lincoln was known for the fact that he had a Secretary of State and a Secretary of War that often did not agree with him. Yet Lincoln did not shun them or fire them, and in listening to their different point of views he actually found them to be helpful.

This all leads to some insights worth noting:

1) Never dismiss or write off someone from your life simply because they do not agree with the majority of your opinions or convictions. We are often unaware of the weaknesses of our views or blind spots in our lives that someone who is just like us would never pick up on or challenge us to consider.
2) Knowing that there are others who see things differently than you do has a way of reminding you that you are not the center of the universe, that your opinion is not the only one that may have value, and that God has made people differently, and there is something refreshing about that.

Having said all this though, I will tell you that when it comes to some things, there does need to be opinions that are equally shared by all – especially when it comes to truth claims. For there is such a thing as absolute truth, and there is no room for diversity when it comes to issues like the Lordship of Jesus Christ or the inerrancy of Scripture. But that’s not my point right now.

My point is: don’t be so quick to cling to people who always think just like you – that kind of friendship circle is not always conducive to your growth. Some of the most bizarre people I have met that have crazy ideas and preferences have strangely ended up bringing more excitement and joy to my life than I would have ever anticipated. And the more I rub up against them, the more it rounds off my edges – and occasionally, I’ve even changed my whole perspective on something. The bottom line: it’s not the most important thing to be right all the time. And sometimes, I am totally wrong.


Anita said...

well said! How does that relate to people at different life stages? Or does it? Would a person with 5 kids and homeschooling have the same opinion on public schools as a single person with no kids who is a public school principal? Take that as only one example, does life stage fit into natural social, feel-good, realities? or not?

Eric Bargerhuff said...

Not sure I understand the whole question, but remember, I think there will always be people we don't agree with or relate to, but the point is, we should not simply dismiss them from our lives because of those differences.